• Issue 55 - February 2005

    01 February 2005

    Well -- haven't I got some exciting news to share with you this month!!! I hinted in the last issue of the Monthly that I might, at long last, have some film news for you this year -- and lo and behold, here it is!! Before you get TOO excited, no, there won't be a Cirque Du Freak film playing in your local cinema any time soon!! But we've taken a massive step forward, and maybe Darren Shan's day of cinematic glory isn't as far off as it seemed just a few months ago... Make sure you don't stop after you've read the film news though, because there's plenty more to report in this issue of the Monthly -- I've added a couple of dates to my global tour (including a long-awaited return to Holland!!!); there's a full report of my recent trip to Japan; news of a Vampire War coming your way soon (if you live in the UK or Ireland); and more!!! But, first, let's open with the hotly anticipated movie news ...


    I wasn`t going to reveal this until every last bit of the deal had been finalised, but news has leaked and spread like wildfire via the internet, so ... I can exclusively (well, not quite!) reveal that the movie rights to The Saga of Darren Shan have been bought by Universal Studios!! They also have a top-notch production team attached (headed by Lauren Shuler Donner - responsible for the X-Men movies) and an Oscar-winning screenwriter (Brian Helgeland - the writer of L.A. Confidential and Mystic River, and writer/director of A Knight's Tale). There`s no guarantee that a movie will actually be made, of course, but this is looking VERY positive!! You can find out more about the producer and director by going to http://www.imdb.com and checking out their profiles. And you can read some of the many press articles about the deal further down in this post.

    It`s important not to get TOO excited at this stage -- there's a lot of work to be done before a film can go into production, so it might be quite a long time before I can reveal anything else. If you read any wild stories on the net -- claiming to know the release date for a film, or the actors involved -- IGNORE THEM!!!! When there is any actual, official news to report, you`ll be able to read about it HERE!!!! All I can reveal at the moment is what I've said above, and also that if a movie is made, it will combine elements of the first 3 books. This means it would be VERY different to the books, with a different structure, and maybe even some of the characters playing different parts and functions. Personally, I'm all in favour of this -- I think a good movie adaptation needs to stand by itself, and not just appeal to fans of the books. What works in print doesn't always translate well to screen, and vice versa. If they manage to maintain the spirit of the books -- i.e. the darkness, the deaths, the importance of friendship, the relationships between Darren and Mr Crepsley, and Darren and Steve -- I'll be happy.
    One final thing -- no e-mails or letters to ME, asking if YOU can have a role in the movie!!!! I will probably have very little to do with the movie (if it`s made!) and will have absolutely NO SAY WHATSOEVER in who gets cast!!! If you`re a wannabe actor, try writing to Universal or the production company -- and before you ask, no, I don`t have an address for either of them!!!! If you're serious about auditioning, you'll have to find out stuff like that yourself!!!!!!!
    Now, here are a few of the reports about the movie deal. It's been mentioned in hundreds of sites online, but the story originally broke in Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, so I'm including the text from both of them, as well as my agent's official release (in The Bookseller) and an amusing piece from Ain't It Cool News.
    The Bookseller
    The Saga of Darren Shan Film Deal
    As reported in Variety and The Hollywood Reporter last Thursday and Friday respectively, in a major deal, film rights to the Darren Shan series have been acquired by Universal Studios, the Donners` Co (producing) and Brian Helgeland (adapting and executive producing). Brian Helgeland is the Academy Award winning script writer for LA Confidential as well as Academy Award Nominee for Mystic River. The deal was made by Christopher Little of the Christopher Little Literary Agency, acting on behalf of Darren O`Shaughnessy, a.k.a. Darren Shan.

    Published by HarperCollins Publishers in the UK and Little, Brown & Co in the US and 19 other publishers globally, the twelve books in the Darren Shan series are bestsellers in many countries around the world. Darren has reached number one on both the children`s and adults bestseller lists in Japan where he has a huge following. He has also reached number one in Taiwan and Ireland as well as on the UK children's best seller list. To date, the books have sold well over 9 million copies worldwide.
    U grabs hold of 'Freak' show
    Shan has written a dozen books in series
    Universal has acquired screen rights to "Cirque du Freak," the bestselling children's series by Darren Shan. Brian Helgeland is set to write, and Lauren Shuler Donner will produce. Shan has so far written a dozen books in the series, and Helgeland, who'll exec produce, will use the first three books for the initial installment of what the studio hopes will be a trilogy of films. The book series revolves around a youth named Darren Shan who attends an illegal freak show. By the end, he has agreed to serve as a vampire's assistant to save his best friend's life. [The series] has sold over 8.3 million copies so far.
    Date in print: Fri., Jan. 14, 2005, Los Angeles. By Michael Fleming, Claude Brodesser.
    Hollywood Reporter
    Jan. 14, 2005.
    Helgeland, Uni in 'Freak' show
    Universal Pictures has acquired the film rights to the best-selling children's series "Cirque Du Freak" by Irish author Darren Shan and has hired Brian Helgeland to adapt it. Lauren Shuler Donner will produce the project for Universal, with Jack Leslie, president of production at the Donners' Co., overseeing development alongside Shuler Donner. Helgeland will adapt the first three books of the series for the feature and also will executive produce. Helgeland won an Oscar for writing the screenplay to "L.A. Confidential," and also was nominated for writing "Mystic River." He also wrote and directed "A Knight's Tale." Helgeland's long-standing relationship with the Donners' Co. led to the pairing on "Freak." (Liza Foreman)
    Who The Heck Is Darren Shan, And What`s The CIRQUE DU FREAK?!
    Hi, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab... I`ve never heard of these books, but I`m not surprised. There`s so much literature for young readers being published these days in the wake of the massive success of J.K. Rowlings that it`s hard to keep up with if you don`t have a young reader in the house. And, no, I`m not slamming these books or calling them rip-offs, any more than I would say that about the delightful LEMONY SNICKET series. I just think the publishing landscape has changed, and now, more than ever, this type of book has become big business, especially when someone`s able to create a series that really hooks a readership.
    Evidently, the CIRQUE DU FREAK series was optioned by Warner Bros. before the first two books were even published. Now, as book 12 is out in the UK, it looks like the rights have shifted over to Universal where Lauren Shuler Donner`s going to be working to bring them to life with Brian Helgeland handling the screenplay. I was just talking to Harry the other night about his deep abiding love for all things relating to freakshows after he finished watching CHAINED FOR LIFE, so I expect that these films will quickly become his most favoritest things ever!


    In the UK and Ireland, the third of the trilogy collections, Vampire War, goes on sale in the first week of February!! (Although it might be in some shops already -- it's definitely in stock at Amazon!) This one collects books 7, 8 and 9 -- widely held by most fans to be three of the best books of the series!!! It features a fabulous cover, corrected text (i.e. any small mistakes from the first edition have been fixed), and only costs £9.99 -- meaning you get 3 books for the price of 2!!! A true bargain!!!!! You should be able to buy it from any halfway decent shop where books are sold, or else you can buy it from amazon uk by clicking here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0007179588/shanville As far as I know, this will also go on sale in Australia and New Zealand at the same time (or within the next few weeks), so if you live Down Under -- watch out for it!!!!


    Ireland on Sunday recently interviewed me, and the piece appeared in the paper on Sunday, January 16th. It was a very nice piece -- and accurate, which is always a bonus!!! There was a photo of me holding a giant spider -- Lady Bas bought that for me (from Gadget Shop in London) a couple of years ago, and it's seen great service since, cropping up in lots of photos, and even on telly once!!!
    I was also recently interviewed by The Times in Ireland, but I'm not sure when that piece is due to be published. Keep an eye out for it if you get The Times, and let me know if you spot it!!!


    Sales of my books in America have now passed the one million mark!!!!! Many thanks to all my American Shansters for their continued support! 2005 is shaping up to be my biggest year yet, States-side, so I hope you all enjoy the treats I and my hard-working publishers have in store for you over the coming 12 months!!!!! By the way, in case anyone's interested in where my books sell most copies ... Japan is my biggest market -- I've sold 4.2 million books there. I think the U.K. is next -- almost at the 1.5 million mark. In third place is the U.S.A., and in fourth (I think!!!) is Taiwan. After that, I'm not really sure!! It sounds strange, but it's very difficult for a writer to keep up with the sales of his/her books!!! One day, it would be interesting to go through all my mounds of paperwork and create a comprehensive list -- but with my 2005 schedule (see below) I doubt if that will happen any time soon!!!!


    I was sad to learn that Humphrey Carpenter has died. A writer and broadcaster of many talents, he wrote several biographies of famous people, and also the Mr Majeika books for children. I met Humphrey once, in 2002, at the Edinburgh book festival, where we did a panel event together (along with the always delightful Viv French). I'll never forget it because I forgot his name!!!

    People who know me know that I'm terrible with names -- I'll often even forget the names of people I know quite well!!! I was answering a question at one stage, and wanted to refer to Humphrey's books. But as I did it, I realized I couldn't remember what he was called!!!!!! It was quite embarrassing, but funny too -- I was quick to admit that I was a complete putz for forgetting it! (I also got Viv's name mixed up that day too -- maybe that's why I don't get invited on many panels any more!!).

    I wasn't sure if Humphrey saw the funny side of it or not. I think he did, though maybe he felt I was an impudent, disrespectful young pup!!! For the last couple of years I'd been meaning to ask him, the next time we met; to apologise if I did put his nose out of joint; or to share a good old chuckle if he found it as amusing as I did. Now, sadly, that opportunity has passed, and I'll just have to wait and quiz him about it in the next world. I hope I get his name right then!!!!!!!!!


    I recently received a copy of a book called Irma - Memoirs of a Vampire Gone Dry. It had been sent to me by its author, Laine Jacob. Her neighbour, an 11 year old girl called Jodie, is a huge fan of mine, and had got Laine interested in my books. In fact, my name and Cirque Du Freak are actually mentioned in the book!! That's the first time, as far as I know, that I've been name-checked in another author's book!!!! It make me feel very ... established!!! I haven't read the book yet, but I'm very much looking forward to doing so!!

    If you're interested in buying the book, you can purchase it from Amazon by clicking here: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0972944508/qid%3D1107164088/sr%3D11-1/ref%3Dsr%5F11%5F1/002-3175712-6880801 or from Barnes & Noble here: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?userid=FK15sOq9Fq&isbn=0972944508&itm=1 (but they don't have any copies in stock at the moment!). Unfortunately it's not currently available in the UK, but you can order it via the US sites listed above if you wish.


    I had a busy but highly enjoyable trip to Japan in January. I arrived on Thursday, 20th. Had a quiet day, met up with my agent/friend - Maiko - and had a bite to eat. On Friday I gave 6 interviews, back to back!! Luckily they were really interesting interviews, with loads of cool questions -- the sort writers always want to be asked, but very seldom are! My publishers, Shogakukan, then held a party for me, where I got to meet lots of staff members. It was fun -- a lot more fun than parties of this type normally are!!!

    On Saturday I did two signing sessions in Tokyo. Each lasted two and a half hours, and 250 people came to each event! I had to sign super fast to make sure I signed everybody`s book!!! I was afraid I might run out of time, but luckily things ran perfectly to schedule. I didn`t have much time to chat with the fans, but you can`t have everything in life!!!

    Then I got the bullet train to Osaka. Had Okonomiyaki for the first time (that`s the Japanese equivalent of pizza -- very strange, but mighty tasty!). On Sunday I did two more signing sessions. The first lasted two and a half hours, as planned, but the second went on for three and a half hours!! I didn`t mind -- I was having great fun!!! I had a bit more free time at the end of these 2 events, and was able to answer some questions from the crowd.

    My publishers were telling me that it`s very unusual to get such big crowds. Most authors in Japan, even international bestselling authors, would rarely get more than 100 people at a signing. So I was delighted to see so many fans -- you lot truly are the cream of the crop!!!! Also, many of the fans waited until the end of the sessions -- i.e. after they`d had their books signed -- just to hear me speak for a few minutes!! I`ve never encountered such widespread patience before!!!!!! It gave this young half-vampire a very warm glow in his heart!!!
    Got to do a bit of sightseeing after my events in Osaka. First I went to Koyasan, an ancient religious site. Set on top of a mountain, there are dozens of temples there. It's one of the most visited spots in Japan, although it was fairly quiet at this time of year. It had also snowed heavily a few days before, so everything was white. Went to a few of the temples, then to a massive cemetery -- over half a million tombs!!! It was very atmospheric, and also - in parts - a bit surreal! Many companies have tombs or monuments in the cemetery, with company symbols, photos of some of the board members, etc. And some have carved models which are associated with their company's product, e.g. cars. The most impressive and astonishing was a 30 or 40 foot tall rocket!!!!!! I stayed in one of the temples overnight, and had a delicious vegetarian meal. (Those who know me will be amazed by that -- normally I only eat meat, fowl of fish, and push my veg to the side of the plate!!)

    On Tuesday we drove to Kumano. It's normally a fairly short drive, but our driver didn't want to risk the snowy mountain roads, so he took us the long way around! I didn't mind -- I got to see some lovely coastline and countryside. Visited a few temples in Kumano, walked up an 800 year old set of steps, and saw Japan's highest waterfall, Nachi. Nice!!! Also got to stay in a truly fabulous hotel, which was built on a small island -- the hotel was the only building there. And because it was a fairly quiet time of year, I got to stay in the best room in the hotel -- ultra luxury!!!! Sometimes it's a lot of fun being a writer!!!!!!!

    On Wednesday we caught the train north, past some spectacular scenery, to Nagoya. We stopped off in Matsusaka, home of Matsusaka beef. Although Kobe beef is more internationally famous, many Japanese consider Matsusaka beef to be the best in the country. After the delicious slices that I sampled, I certainly wouldn't disagree with that!!!!! Yum!!!!! In Nagoya I went to an all-girl's school (the first time I'd been to a school in Japan). It was very interesting to visit a few of the classes and observe lessons in progress (and fun to have hundreds of teenage girls squealing as I walked past their classrooms, like I was a rock star or actor!!!). Then, after school, 500 of the girls stayed behind and I gave a short event in a huge hall, reading a bit of Lord Loss and answering as many questions as we could squeeze in.

    Then it was back to Tokyo for my final night, before facing up to my long flight home. This was another fab Japanese trip for me, a nice mix of business and pleasure, and all I can say in conclusion is -- I can't wait to come back again!!!!


    The Darren Shan touring show continues across the globe in 2005!! I've already been to Japan, and there are plenty more countries lining up for me!! Latest additions are The Netherlands and, closer to home, Wexford. I hope to add a few more Irish events, and a few UK events, soon -- but not many!!! N.B. dates, venues and times are subject to change -- please keep checking back for updates.

    March 31st - April 4th. More details to follow.

    Donner Bookshop -- Rotterdam, Lijnbaan 150. tel: 010 4132070. web site: http://www.donner.nl e-mail: [email protected] -- Sunday April 10th, 2.00p.m. -- signing session. Entry is free, but Donner would like you to reserve your place in advance. For more info, click here: http://www.donner.nl/domains/default/pages/content.asp?content=10830000000206_0_10000000001651 People who come will also have the possibility of winning a dinner date for later that day -- with ME!!!!

    Friday, April 15th -- 2 events at the Wexford Book Festival -- 10.00 and 13.00.
    The events will be in a theatre that holds more than 500 people. It's on during school time, so you'll either have to organise a class trip with your teacher, or bunk off school!! If you want to try to organise a class trip, ask your teacher. If s/he agrees, they can contact the organisers at: [email protected] You can book individual tickets through the organizers too -- but check with your parents and school first to make sure you can get the time off!!!!!! There is also a web site for the festival: http://www.wexfordbook.com

    Thursday, April 21st, 2005 -- arrive Budapest.
    Friday, April 22nd -- fly to Debrecen for events that day.
    Saturday, April 23rd -- Budapest International Book Fair, Budapest Congress Centre. 10:00 – interviews, dedication. 17:00 – dedication in Mammut Libri Book Palace.
    Sunday, April 24th – Budapest International Book Fair, Budapest Congress Centre. 10:00 – dedication.

    My sixth year in a row at the Book Festival!! I can't believe they're not sick and tired of me yet!!!!!

    Details to follow.


    I plan to update and make major changes to Shanville over the next few months, ahead of the launch of Lord Loss. One of the section which I'll probably be getting rid of is the letters forum. Since the Message Board allows readers to talk with each other about the books, there doesn't seem much point in having a letter page as well, especially as I have no time to update it!! So, if you want to read any of the letters currently online one last time, or download them, you'll need to act quickly!!! The link for the letters page on Shanville UK is http://www.darrenshan.com/uk_site/letters/ukletters1.html and the USA letters can be found at http://www.darrenshan.com/us_site/usletters/usletters01.html


    And that's it for February! I plan to spend the next couple of months working hard on my new series of demon books (yes, Lord Loss, although a stand-alone book, also serves as the start of a new series -- though I'm not saying how many books it will be!!!). I don't expect to have any more news about the film deal any time soon -- though I should have some exciting news for my American readers within the next month or two!!! Until March, I'll leave you all to dream of Hollywood and debate with your friends who should (and shouldn't!) be cast in the movie! Until then, all the bloody best, Darren Shan x x x